Though no doubt some of you will want to know the outfit details for what I’m wearing in this photo (I promise I’ll include them at the end!), today I want to set aside fashion for a moment and get real. I love fashion and style and expressing myself through what I wear, but only because I feel comfortable in my skin and the freedom in my life to be who I want to be.
Because it’s the first day of September and the beginning of “pumpkin latte season,” I’m going to take you on a trip down memory lane, to a place in my past that I don’t often share but has shaped every bit of my life today…
Ten years ago, I was diagnosed with anorexia. I was a college student experiencing loss and tragedy and uncertainty and it became the way I coped with my experiences. Having never struggled with body image until that point in my life, it was strange to feel my mind become consumed with food and calories and exercise and my body. Though when it started I found comfort in feeling a sense of control over my life, eventually it became clear that the eating disorder controlled me. No longer could I make choices for myself (or so it felt)—my life and choices were dictated by a small voice in my head leading me down a life-threatening path.
Since I’m writing this now, you know that those behaviors and that disorder are well behind me—I truly feel like that girl was a different person. I feel compassion for her and empathize with her pain and struggle, but have separated myself from that identity for so long she seems like someone other than myself. And that’s part of the reason the pumpkin latte means so much to me.
For so long I was terrified of calories and “bad food” that I had never tried a pumpkin latte (among other things), even years into my recovery process. Then on my 24th birthday, a friend who I worked with brought one to work for me (having no idea that I’d been “afraid” of drinking them for years). I sat and looked at the latte on my desk for a bit, debating what to do with it.
I’m sure this is a strange concept to any of you reading this who have always had a normal relationship with food, and even today it seems a little nuts to me. But at that time in my life, taking just a sip of it felt like something that would completely unhinge me and I felt nervous. After all of the years of hard work and healing I’ve experienced and the freedom from calorie restriction I now live in, I second-guessed whether I would drink it.
Maybe I shouldn’t have it. Maybe I should only drink half of it. Or, maybe I should just leave the past where it belongs, and enjoy the delicious treat on my desk.
I’m thankful to say, I decided on the latter option. I told that little voice in the back of my head to be quiet, and reminded myself that it had no place to speak into my life anymore. And then, I took a sip. And another sip, and another, and 30 minutes later I found myself finishing off the very last drop. It was scary, but it was absolutely worth it.
Since then, I get a pumpkin latte for myself at least once a month during the fall, but always on my birthday as a reminder of where I’ve been, how thankful I am to be free from such a debilitating disorder, and the beautiful way that God can redeem nasty pasts and use the struggles in our lives for good.
I don’t know how many of you will relate to what I’ve shared, but my hope is that even one of you will find comfort in my story. After all, isn’t that the purpose of pain and struggle in our lives—to help those who are walking down the difficult paths we’ve crossed and conquered?